Senate Democrats Reach Tentative Deal

The news was hot & heavy on Monday regarding a financial package for the MTA being passed in Albany. When I last left you, Gov. Paterson was demanding the Legislature vote on & subsequently pass the latest proposal by the end of Tuesday. In the meantime Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith was working on swaying support from the 2 Democrats holding up any proposal being passed.

His swaying worked as he emerged from a closed door meeting & announced that the 2 Senators were on board. Jimmy Veilkind of Politicker NY has more in this report:

Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith emerged from a three-hour closed-door conference with the last two members of his conference holding up an M.T.A. bailout bill and announced that they had reached an agreement with each other about what the legislation should contain. Now it’s question of whether the Senate Democrats can get the governor and the Assembly to go along with what they pass.

“The governor proposed language that said he would reimburse the school districts,” Smith said. “We heard that language, and we want to talk to him and be clear about exactly what reimbursement means, and specifically want to make sure we’re comfortable with the fact that these school districts will be held harmless and it won’t fluctuate based on circumstances, and that’s why the language will be very important.”

State Senators Brian Foley and Craig Johnson both said they would sign on to a “hold harmless” proposal. With their support, and assuming the rest of the conference decides to go along with the refashioned legislation, the bill would have the requisite 32 votes to pass in the Senate.

Click here for the complete report.

However the news does not end there as a piece in the New York Times looks at how this package may omit money for the MTA’s Capital Program. Here is more from Nicholas Confessore:

In what appeared to be an effort to lower expectations for any bailout of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Gov. David A. Paterson said on Monday that he did not expect a plan currently being formulated by the State Senate to include enough money to cover the authority’s long-term capital needs. Instead, Mr. Paterson said, it would merely help avert service cuts and fare hikes scheduled to take effect at the end of May.

Tellingly, Mr. Paterson also suggested that he had always favored addressing the authority’s operating deficit first and its capital needs later — a suggestion at odds with his ongoing advocacy for the bailout plan prepared by Richard Ravitch, the former authority chairman. That plan would have used tolls and payroll taxes to provide both a long-term source of capital and a short-term infusion of operating cash. A modified version is supported by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, but does not have enough support to pass the Senate.

“My feeling all along has been that we should address the capital plan later in the year,” Mr. Paterson said at a news conference in the Capitol. “The credit markets really are not accommodating the type of measures that we would have to take to try to solve the capital plan now. It would be better to wait later in the year.”

Click here for the complete report.

Readers of this blog know my feeling on these proposals & what should actually be done. I am glad to see I am not alone in this as similar transit advocates have spoke out against the proposal & its failure to address such things as the MTA’s Capital Program. Jimmy Vielkind has more in this report for Politicker NY:

Even if it is palatable enough to pass both houses of the legislature, the plan to bail out the M.T.A. that David Paterson formally unveiled this weekend is not getting a warm welcome from the alliance of labor leaders and transit advocates that pushed firmly for the Ravitch plan. They write, with charming understatement, that the plan “may not” adequately address the system’s capital needs.

Click here for the complete report.

I would like to take this moment to acknowledge a responder to the New York Times report by Nicholas Confessore. I usually blast the idiocy that comes from responders to MTA related articles. However I want to commend Ariel who showcased the fact they understand what is & is not needed at this time:

Passing this half-cooked plan is exactly what we don’t need. It will lead to more months of lobbying and political squabble.

Either pass the Ravitch/ Silver plan fully or go through with the doomsday plan. Albany needs to stop postponing their problems. Doing so year after year is what led the MTA to get to this point in the first place and won’t do anything to get them out.

This sentiment is one I have shared for sometime here on Transit Blogger. Albany seriously needs to get this right as so much is at stake. If we have to suffer from Doomsday for some time until sustainable solutions are created, so be it. I understand that this sentiment won’t be shared by many. However I understand that for the greater good of everyone, temporary suffering might be needed to make long term relief a reality.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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